FP

The Great Zentangle Book

Book Review

Today I’m reviewing The Great Zentangle Book: Learn to Tangle with 101 Engaging Patterns by Beate Winkler, CZT, & Friends. I found this book at my local library, and really loved every aspect of it. As someone who has visually taught herself the art she knows, I found this book quite helpful, not only to learn how to Tangle, but also in practicing different types of lines.

The introductory pages of the book speak a little on the history of Zentangle — I found it’s beginnings quite surprising — to me, Zentangle started at my parents’ dining room table which stood next to the landline phone. Seated at the head of the table, deep in conversations with callers, they would take notes and occasionally doodle a latticework of lines, circles, spirals and spiderwebs, only much later did the epiphany arise that adults want to color, too, and bam — Zentangle. Truth: It was actually invented by Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts. You can read all about how it began at their website, Zentangle.

20180801_193008.jpgThe one thing the publishers / author might have changed about the book to make it even more helpful is to add tabs, and either alphabetize the patterns, or create a tab for each one so it’s easier to flip right to them. A ring-bound book may have been additionally assistive. These was my only grievances with the book. With it being a library book, I have to be gentle with it, and I had no way to hold it open to the page I needed while drawing. So I had to try to commit patterns to memory before beginning. Easy with some — not with others.

Best things about this guide:

  • At the very back there are a few pages titled, “All Tangles from A to Z”. These pages held a brief compendium of all patterns shown throughout the book, and images of tiles visually describing each so you know exactly which ones you’ll find and where. Page numbers included.
  • Each pattern taught was coupled with examples of tiles that particular pattern had been used in. These tiles were drawn and provided by Zentangle Artists from so many countries. So not only do you learn how to Tangle that pattern specifically, but you get to see variegated examples — the one pattern doesn’t have to look exactly so. Take your inspiration on a journey.
  • Patterns were extremely easy to comprehend with new lines and shading marked in red. This book did all but hold my hand through the learning process.

I did things slightly different from what the book recommends — nothing against the recommendations made, I really love the materials I have, and felt I should use them rather than purchasing more right away. I used blank index cards, #2 pencils from Ticonderoga a Staedtler eraser and when I needed ink I used a BIC Grip Roller. In my practice, I came up with this Tangle-Face.

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Tangle-Face by Laura Weiller, author Re.Habit Crafted

Tangles Used: 

  • Zinger
  • Strircles
  • Ahh
  • Keeko
  • Onamato
  • Knightsbridge
  • Cubine
  • Msst
  • Cruffle
  • Laced
  • Aquafleur
  • Printemps

So, how about you? Are you tangling yet? Please feel free to share your own experience with Zentangle, this book, or even your art links in the comments below. I’d love to hear from all of you!! What art materials and guide books have you found most helpful?

Thanks for reading! You can see more of my art and craft work via my Instagram and don’t forget to touch base with me on Twitter.

FP

Fiction Clemens

Book Review

A little over a year ago, I was reading sushi and eating a graphic novel online — because, why not book dinner…? I loved it! So, for Christmas 2016, the itch to read it again got the better of me, so I asked my librarian for it and got to read it twice! I’ve immensely enjoyed getting to know the writing of the author of that ‘sushi dinner’… we all have our ‘go-to comforts’. Things we do when we’re emotional or just need a moment away from reality; Josh Wagner’s books have been one of those comforts for me, and this new year was no different.

A mere six days into the new year, our beloved cat, Twitter passed away suddenly. I wp-1485553456275.pngspent the next few days playing in the snowflakes he’d have chattered at and reading Fiction Clemens with Gingy. We soon learned of a talkative cat with “odd” eyes in need of a home ASAP. So I named my new cat Fiction because I can’t imagine anything that would better suit the little guy.

Fiction Clemens [the book, not the kitty] is a delightful brand of bizarre fantasy… and okay, the cat’s a little kooky, too. I particularly enjoyed the aesthetic of all the colors on each page, as did Fiction and our dog, Gingy. One of Wagner’s most unique talents is that his tales seem to invite the reader to make their own decision as to what the story is about. In the case of Fiction Clemens,

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#FictionCat is apparently a magician… or telekinetic.

I found studies of time and human relationships, as well as several questions: what holds the fabric of our reality together? Is it a deity, perhaps made man — or an empire of toothpicks? Or maybe they were cacti? Is there truly an end to a story — or is there a universe beyond to which only a few select characters may go to build a new life? One could ask all of these questions and more. But I think the best one I came up with was, “do cacti make good pets?

Josh Wagner has cemented himself as one of my favorite authors — it only took most of his books [okay, only a chapter or two] to fully convince me. His stories may be unorthodox, but they bring one to consider and question the world surrounding us in broader terms.

Completely selfish plug: I’d like to see more from Josh Wagner, so, if you love to read, and are a nice sort of person who doesn’t mind taking a brief moment to rate a book on social media [or even if you’re not into rating books], check out the FREE online version of Fiction Clemens here [or via your local library]. And, if you’d like to be a part of the makings of another book, you might consider supporting the author via his Patreon page. You may also support him by purchasing or reviewing his work on Amazon.

FP

Black Butterfly & Beautiful Chaos

Book Review

Early this year, I received Robert M. Drake’s Black Butterfly as a gift. I’ve also had the privilege of owning a copy of Beautiful Chaos. Both books have been wonderful additions to my tiny library.

I’ve never been one to read much poetry. However, when I happened across Drake’s work at a Barnes & Noble, I began reading and found it speaks to me in a special way. Drake has a way of weaving plain-spoken words skillfully through emotional thoughts and truths. Sometime after reading Beautiful Chaos, I learned that many of these poems are excerpts of stories the author has written. This is in part what encouraged me to keep a writer’s notebook. Even if a piece of something cannot be used as originally intended, it can be used.

Excellent for a first-time poetry reader, I find this book continues to appeal to me even as my enjoyment of poetry matures. I’m truly impressed with the author’s depth of feeling portrayed so simply. I look forward to reading more!

Highly recommended for anyone 17 and up.

FP

The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks

Book Review

I couldn’t return this book to the library without writing this. The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death under Soviet Rule by Igort is probably the closest thing to horror I’ve ever willingly read. And I think we all should take a few weeks to read it. I say a few weeks because if you’re sensitive to the human condition, you will need to take many a break to let the information sink in. Or, you’ll likely find yourself hunched over the toilet in an emotional mess.

I won’t give away any of the story at all, but as with any review, I wish to take a moment to cover the basis of it. Igort, a renowned comics artist / illustrator, spent two years in Russia and Ukraine researching and taking down stories from people who survived Soviet rule. Honestly, it felt like I was learning so much of this history for the first time, and that bothered me to the core.

Like all education systems out there, America’s is flawed. There are holes in what we’re taught. Some teachers skip specific materials and fields of thought altogether, or worse, their hands are tied. We’re missing some big pieces of history — which to me is more dangerous than missing pieces of artistry, language, science, geography, or arithmetic. History repeats itself; especially for those who ignore it.

Some of what I read, I discovered [through Google dictionary and Wikipedia searches] was a repeat of my history lessons in highschool, only words foreign to me [often Ukrainian or Russian terms] are used to describe them. Still other things I find myself extremely confused on.

My confusion stems from a lack of education in regards to the Soviet Union. I’m uncertain whether:

  • I learned this and forgot over time.
  • I was taught this.
  • It was glossed over in a class because so much of it is “R-rated” and not for youths.
  • The teachers themselves weren’t aware of some of it due to the secretive nature of that government.
  • Left out of textbooks or otherwise deemed unfit for my age bracket.

Either way, it feels like a tattered thrift shop puzzle — I’m still waiting for over half the pieces to turn up in the thrift shop, but in the meantime, I have a fractured view and understanding of the final image. This is yet another reason why history is so crucially important. If your schools aren’t teaching it appropriately, I challenge parents and teens to go the extra mile[s].

This is a graphic novel. Though the illustrations are not grossly detailed, there is most definitely an unmistakable comprehension of each image’s message. I do not recommend this book for teens unless a parent or guardian reads it first and then supervises the teens’ reading. We are a sensitive people — take care of one another in this. However, I do strongly recommend this book. Imagine how much better we’d each have done in history classes had the textbooks been comics!! This is an excellent way to learn history. As I stated earlier, I’m a little confused — however, this is due solely to my lacking knowledge on the subject prior to reading the book.

A few sensitive topics the book covers: 

  • Government imposed starvation
  • Cannibalism — usually per the starvation mentioned above
  • War — and Igort don’t mess around… every detail he gleaned is laid bare for us to read.
  • Terror — let me repeat; Igort. Don’t. Mess around.
  • Assasination of activist[s]
  • Police state

I wish I could say to enjoy the book… The truth is, I had difficulty getting through this one without vomiting. I read it because I owe it to myself to know history. To know the truth. So I’ll leave you with that. Understand, you won’t enjoy this. But do read it and know an inkling of truth.

Thanks for reading.

Shapes the Sunlight Takes

Book Review

In the years before I learned to drive, I loved sitting in the back seat, eyes trained out the window. It was a place where I could release my imagination — new worlds came to life for me, no matter what inspired them. Shapes the Sunlight Takes rekindled my love for such quiet moments. If one ever wished to enter a character’s mind, this is the most accurate word painting of a creative’s imagination I’ve ever had the immense pleasure of reading. I must confess, I stretched the reading out as long as I could stand — I was immediately saddened upon completing it; I’d nothing {of this caliber} left to read for months. So I swiped left back to the front cover and started over…

Wagner’s talented writing brings to light the gorgeous intellect of the fanciful mind. Brilliantly set amid the drama of teenage theatrics and lovelorn, readers are carried through fictitious realms of possibility which just might be real — or are they? The facts of life and death meet and explore one another here; never in opposition or cause, but rather endurance. The main character, Lexi, gains expanded clarity into and acceptance of her own reality; I like to imagine this allows her to accept what is and what will be with a certain grace and poise, even as she’s disappointed. 

Trust me, you want {and possibly need} to drop everything and experience this book right now. Unconvinced? Here’s the teaser.

Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life

Book Review

It’s taken me quite some time to read this book. I began my minimalist lifestyle in mid-2012. There have been a lot of hiccups in the journey and my spouse and I have definitely made this lifestyle our own.

A well-written account of two friends’ considerations of minimalism, Minimalism: Live a Meaningful Life discusses everything from where it all began [for the Minimalists themselves] to in-depth examples of the core values they discovered in the process. I was particularly impressed by the suggestion of making contributions fun. This recommendation coupled with videos I’ve seen have proven Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus to be the most fun-loving individuals to ever pen a how-to book or a memoir.

Most remarkable is the obvious care with which the book was written. Never patronizing of it’s readers, nor does it assume singular superiority on any subject. These two authors bring to the table a varied, yet unified understanding of and empathy toward their readers, providing relatability on a level rarely experienced today.

Though this book does not delve too deeply into the authors’ personal stories [covered in Everything that Remains], it explores minimalistic lifestyle in a way which causes the reader to think. I found myself re-introduced to ideas I’d already considered, only now, they appeared in better lighting under the lamp of this book.

So thankful for this clear glimpse into an often over-complicated lifestyle. 

To Route427 Readers: If you’re struggling to find a copy of this book in your state [like I did] ask your local librarian about inter-library loans. In the meantime, I learned so much just from reading their blog, The Minimalists so be sure to check it out as well.

    Consider Reading

    Book Review, Kids Books

    I visit my favorite library at least once weekly — often borrowing up to 8 or more books at a time. Noting this stack of random books, a friend recently asked how I go about choosing a book to read. Mid-answer, I realized I was more or less making the story up as I went along, yet it still sounded canned.

    As an INFJ  my reasons for why I do certain things are gemstone nuggets of thought which I hurl into the chasm of my mind, allowing them to lodge wherever they will. Over time, thought-sediment solidfies over the gems and one must dig to find them again. It’s the cave in which I live… But then people wish to know, “So why this book? What made you choose it out of all the hundreds of thousands available…?” This is a legitimate question deserving a well-curated response; yet I’m so tempted to parry, “Why do you want to know? Why is this a thing you would ask?” This would be very rude, so I don’t, but I do end up occasionally offering a canned answer, while notating a need to dust off that particular diamond and give it a closer look. Here is the result of the book-choice diamond dusting:

    To read is to learn is to live freely — to hold the world in your hands.
    I truly believe that those who read can  and will do more with their lives. They will live more meaningfully, no matter their station in life. Some are overwhelmed by a set of imagined ‘reading rules’ society has imposed upon us. I urge you not to listen to them… reading is whatever you make of it.

    Start simple.
    Find a book you think you’ll enjoy. Find a comfy spot. Commence reading. No constraints; don’t tell yourself, “I’m going to read for an hour” or “I’ll read this many pages”. Also, don’t fault yourself for preferring to ‘listen’ to books — some people just want to be read to and that’s okay. 

    If you’re watching the clock, you haven’t made time to read…
    …and you will need to make the time. Reading is like exercise. Imagine a friend was trying to get healthier. You go over to his house and watch him do 5 push ups. Suddenly, he remembers the laundry, so he races to the laundry room to fold clothing in the dryer. He comes back, starts to do another push up and realizes his allotted 30 minutes of exercise time is up and he should get ready for work. A week later, he comes to you moaning that he gained a pound. You would be inclined to explain to your pal that he was too distracted from what he claimed as his mission. We’ve 24 hours, 7 days per week to do all the things… your priorities will shine through inaccurately unless you control them.

    No more book-shaming.
    As I’ve perused book stores and colleges, I’ve often heard conversations in which readers are told the books they choose to read are stupid or juvenile. Not true! Reading any book expands the mind, vocabulary and imagination. I’ve never been to Japan, but I’ve learned things about Japanese culture from some of my favorite manga and anime. 

    Honestly enjoy books.
    If you like something –even if you’re and adult reading Winnie the Pooh– own it. You don’t have to be obnoxious and rub it in our faces {that would be immature}, but do be honest in sharing and discussing with others {see Discuss below}.

    Return unread.
    Remember the stack of 8ish books I get from the library each week? I don’t read them all. Sometimes I get a book home and upon looking at it more closely, I find it’s not going to be as interesting or helpful as I thought. I place it on the shelf and read something else instead. If I haven’t come back to it, or find myself dreading it every time I look at it, I return it. I can always check it out again if my circumstances change and I no longer feel it attempting to suck out my soul.

    Discuss.
    I wish more people held conversations exploring stories outside of book clubs, and such. How much more could we learn if we had a collective conversation on the subject of a single magical tale? You might think fans of different books who are opposed to reading each other’s favorites, would have nothing to talk about. Actually, they do. They may find common ground, or choose to be respectful of one another in listening to what they each liked about their respective books.

    In summary…

    • It’s not about aesthetics, though clean, crisp, fresh and striking books are attractive. Particularly those which hold organic papers. The feel is just different. Bonus points if they smell amazing.
    • It’s not the summaries or orginality, though I love a good summary. It lets me know what to expect from the book. I enjoy some predictible plots, but when I’m looking for something fresh and new, the summary can make or break the moment.
    • It’s not the host of parodies which may well be inspired by the book, but I do love humor.
    • It’s not the first few lines, yet I’ll let you in on a secret. Authors have about 3 lines to a paragraph to draw me in and let me know whether the book is right for me at that point in time.

        It’s about the value drawn from reading, the discoveries made and adventures trekked as a result of having read. The point, then, my dears, is not what you read, but the fact that you do so at all.

        Grey Wolves Series by Quinn Loftis

        Book Review

        The Grey Wolves Series by Quinn Loftis is my current favorite young adult novel series. I happened across the first book, Prince of Wolves, back in 2014 and have been reading and re-reading the series ever since.

        Set [for the most part] in Texas and Romania, this is a young-adult paranormal romance novel series. Coupling edge-of-the-seat excitement with endearing relationships, the tale rotates from mystery and romance to action and magic. Just when I think every character is safe, something new happens, so I find it difficult to put down.

        While the writing itself could use a polish and spellcheck [Nook e-book version], the story held my interest quite well for an easy read. I cannot wait to read it again! It is my most read series for the last two years. Please don’t ask me to pick a favorite character — they’re all so endearing.

        Some might argue this to be a typical young-adult romance series in that men are portrayed as unhealthily possessive towards the women. But this is a tale of werewolves; men and women with dual-natures. I’m truly amazed and intrigued by Loftis’ ability to marry fictional magic and elements of the true characteristics and habits of actual wolves in the wild. It is a brilliant display of her talents.

        I would definitely recommend this as an easy-to-read series for young-adults and the young at heart. I use it as a filler-book… a book to entertain me when I’m also reading something not quite so exciting. Please note, I do not recommend this for young children or teens.

        What Color is Your Parachute? 2015

        Book Review

        Today, I’d like to share a book with you that has been helping me a lot in the last couple months. First, though, I’d like to say a few words on how I came to read it — or force me to accept that details are boring and read on ~_0.

        When I was 18, I had no experience, or so my no-longer-potential-employers told me. But no one ever really laid it out for me, this business of job-hunting. There was of course, the popualrized briefing on filling out an application at any job anywhere and accepting it as your profession happy or not (To Be Loved comes to mind). I’ve taken 4 resume classes to date and had my resume reviewed by multiple hiring managers and professionals. What Color is Your Parachute? 2015 by Richard N. Bolles reaffirmed my most recent course on the subject as well as further expanding what I’d been taught there.

        As a young adult, I was once punished as my family were convinced I had sabotaged several interviews; they couldn’t understand why no one had hired me yet. To this day, I’m not certain what they thought I had done to botch my opportunities, but at the time, they seemed to believe I’d somehow purposefully made myself look bad during interviews. {You’ve caught me! I walked into the interview, slipped the hiring manager a $20 and whispered, “Pretend you’re interviewing me, refuse me the job, smile piteously at whomever drove me and we’ll call it even.”*}This book put self-sabotage in a new light for me in showing that it need not be intentional to occur. Perhaps I did self-sabotage, but if that’s the case, I did so unwittingly. Now I can work to discover hurdles I create in order to overcome them. This knowledge puts me back in control.

        More importantly, I tend to think of job interviews as society’s control-freak way of bending me to it’s will, as opposed to the conversations they actually are. The moment I sit across from an interviewer, I’m no longer myself, I am my my resume. And it’s wrong. So wrong. Before reading this book, my resume looked like the silliest mess of a divorce you’ve seen on live TV court. We yelled at each other. Things were said. We’re that on-again-off-again couple. Resume writing is still a nasty internal war, but I have actual weapons now, and a method which zaps the threat out of interviews and those conducting them.

        My obsession here is that Parachute’s focus is skill-based, in respect of personality differences as opposed to diagnosing a problem (real or imaginary) with the individual and implementing ‘proven’ one-size-fits-all methods to re-acclimate them to the job market. Multiple job search techniques are described, explaining their effectiveness or lack thereof. The choice is in the hands of the seeker.

        I highly recommend this book! Just for fun, if you’ve read this book (or others within the What Color is Your Parachute? series), comment below, telling us a little about your personal findings you wish to share. Perhaps your Holland Code, or personality type if you researched them and how this book helped you?

        My notes: I borrowed this book from my library, so I couldn’t write in it. I still did the excercises on my own paper though, and got a bit creative with my flower, demonstrating the ‘A’ in my Holland Code AES. I’m an INFJ personality type. I’ve worked from home as a homemaker and crafts artisan with an Etsy shop just over 7 years. Since I’ve been out of the professional scene so long, I am currently working through the various types of interviews while doing personal community outreach (to show my knowledge and skills) and seeking employment. My goal is to become self-employed (consulting in a variety of areas, mentor / coach) with a working knowledge of my area’s resources to better assist clients.

        Welcome to my Library

        Book Review

        If given the chance, I eat books while reading my Alpha Bits… Wait, that’s not quite right, is it? Either way, I leave the table with a hungry mind — or something like that. Despite my love of reading, I’m a bit unorthodox in my reading selection. As with food, I’ve a chaotically organized system for reading. Spinach and most predictable plots cause gag-reflexes, however, baby spinach is good in salads and there are painfully foreseeable tales I’ll read the heck out of. It just depends, really.

        I’ve opened up a new page entitled S’avant Garde where I’ll be posting book reviews. I occasionally meet people who try determining the profile of others based on the books they’ve read and enjoyed. To me, this is a labeling system I wish to avoid, however, there is a level of healthy interest there — so I’m offering, for your entertainment, the following list:

        • If reading is sexy, then hyper-popularized books are a bit of a turn-off. Example – I LOVE Twilight… because I got to read it before everyone went bonkers and stalked the stars of the movie series.
        • I find Tolkien’s work disturbing in a bad way. And no, I don’t want to watch the movies — they played a role in my distress.
        • Visits to the library are often aggravating because most of what I want to read is so new it’s not available and everything else isn’t on the shelves or has never been heard of. I’m not sure how common a problem this is, though I’ve been told libraries in the Northwest are often better stocked than those I’m familiar with. I sincerely hope this is true. That said, I’ve found many wonderful books in libraries.
        • Romances (particularly Western / pioneer and fantasy) are my guilty pleasures.
        • No, I haven’t read Fifty Shades of Grey. But I did read the back of my toothpaste and am undecided as to the greater evil — my dental insurance and dentist or the lengthy list of ingredients I dare not endeavor to pronounce.
        • Comics with sushi is another guilty pleasure of mine — it’s right up there with my favorite manga such as Fruits Basket, Vampire Knight, Sailor Moon, Captive Hearts
        • Household bathrooms are libraries, too. Particularly if you’ve small children or pets.
        • Narnia is a place. Guaranteed.
        • I like tackling the problems of the world, making a variety of DIY and self-help books my textbook reading.
        • Poetry is my easy-listening ‘music’. I used to write some poetry and lyrics in high school, though I never found any poets I liked, save one or two. Recently, I started writing [mostly private] poetry again and even found some new (to me) poets who are my new favorites – I like poems that make me think, but are easily understandable. Poetry makes me think in multi-faceted imagery.
        • I’ve often been challenged to tear into books — make notes in margins, generally destroy them. But I literally just can’t. It makes me want to cry.
        • I’m no book geek {or am I?} and only recently got back into reading, which is why this list isn’t any longer.

        Now. Get off the internet and go read your breakfast lest your imagination starve!!